How many times a week do you feel ‘too tired’ to cook dinner?
Fatigue and lack of energy is one of the biggest problems I hear from women in my coaching practice. So many of us get home feeling like a wrung out dish cloth, overwhelmed with the task of getting kids fed, dinner on the table and the rest of our To Do lists done.
I hear stories of women who worry about their safety in driving to work because they are so tired. Others tell me that their days feel like a total fog or that they’ve stopped feeling much of anything.
When we’re this exhausted, is it any wonder that so many of us turn to a glass of wine at night and consider it the ‘highlight of the day’?
I get it. I’ve been there too. Yet it doesn’t have to be this way and you deserve better in this one precious life that you have.
I believe that one of my most important jobs is to help women dissect why they do the things that they do, or feel the way that they feel, around food. Most of us have a pretty good idea intellectually about what healthy habits are, yet there’s a difference between knowledge and action. My passion is helping you get to the bottom of it.
WHERE ARE YOU IN THE STAGES OF BURNOUT?
It absolutely breaks my heart when I see high-performing, capable women give themselves a hard time about food and what they eat.
From my perspective, it is crystal clear that they are doing the best that they can, with what they know and their current capacity. Yet instead I hear things like,
“I’m a failure.”
“My kids aren’t getting enough nutrition.”
“I’m a bad Mum.”
“I’m so good at work, why can’t I just lose weight?”
Many years, when I was very run down and working long hours, a wise friend asked me to do a visualisation that changed my life. She asked me to imagine that I was holding a silver platter in my hands, which represented my life and my capacity. Then, she asked me to list off everything that was currently sitting on that platter – I can tell you, it felt pretty heavy!
She then asked me a really important question,
“Given how tired you feel right now, how much of this can you actually take on?”
Burnout is like having your plate instantly cut in half. It drastically reduces our capacity to hold more – hence why we sometimes get ‘stuck’ in a cycle of turning to takeaway or low-nutrient foods, when we ‘know’ we should eat something healthier. In that moment, we just may not have capacity.
This is why it is supremely helpful to identify how rundown we’re feeling. Below you’ll see my Burnout Funnel Model. This represents the typical stages I see women in and what is happening to their food and attitude towards health at each level. Where do you currently sit?
When clients identify that they are towards the bottom of this funnel, we first look at addressing the need restoration and repletion. This may or may not involve nutrition but the point here is to recognise that if you’re at maximum capacity and minimum energy, adding extra dietary pressures is not going to get you the results you’re after. We need to start with building your energy first.
Here are some ideas to get started and progress through the burnout model:
1. Sleep – make sure you’re getting lots of it. I’ve written extensively about the benefits of sleep and how to improve your zzzz’s here.
2. Consider taking an Executive B Stress Multivitamin – stressed brains and bodies churn through lots of the B Group Vitamins. Always check with your pharmacist first.
3. Get nutrition support. Burnout is a Catch 22; it makes you too tired to cook, yet nutrition will support your energy repletion. Ask partners, family or friends to help out with even 1 homecooked meal a week. Alternatively, there’s nothing wrong with outsourcing your food prep to companies like Hello Fresh and Lite N Easy, especially as a short-term solution.
4. Think about engaging in self-compassion or time management training. Sometimes, high-achieving people find themselves in patterns of burnout when their internal expectations of being ‘good enough’ don’t meet the external world. Working with a registered psychologist with self-compassion training can really help to break old patterns of overwork and burnout. Similarly, speaking to a Time Management coach (there are also plenty of great books on the matter) can help you to eliminate time wasting activities to fit in the things that matter most.
5. Book in a holiday – before you need one. If you’re waiting to feel burnt out before taking a holiday, you’ve already left it too late!